An alleged sexual assault took place in a study room on the third floor of Hodges Library on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 27. My staff and I have reviewed the police report, and are choosing to withhold the name of the victim and the suspect for their privacy.
It would not normally be my responsibility to relay this information to you, but given the ongoing lack of communication about this event from our university, I am assuming it. Allowing rumors to spread across our campus and social media about this event is unprofessional and disrespectful to the victim involved. I believed initially and continue to believe at present that the university had a legal duty and a moral obligation to inform our campus community about this alleged assault.
Legally, UTPD is obligated under Title 20, section 1092, subsection f of the Clery Act to inform the campus community about any "serious OR ongoing" crimes that threaten our safety. I would venture to say that sexual assault qualifies as serious. Jeanne Clery, for whom the act is named, was herself a rape victim.
Beyond a legal obligation, I believe that the administration also has a moral obligation to inform both students and their parents about incidents of alleged sexual assault. I study at night in the library, and so do my friends. We all understand that rape can happen anywhere and at anytime, but the library setting creates a certain level of perceived security. Official notification about this alleged assault would not drum up panic or fear. It should rather serve as a necessary reminder about the realities of our environment, as well as the dangerous threat that a "rape culture" poses to our society. Access to such information is vital. Any information that could impact the personal safety of thousands of students must be made public.
You are likely asking yourself why it has taken so long for this information to appear in The Daily Beacon. This lag in information certainly disturbs me, but under the circumstances it could not be avoided. Over the past few weeks, The Daily Beacon editorial staff has been in communication with UTPD and administrators to gather details on this situation. We did not want to print any suspicion, but only concrete facts about the event. Hard facts were not quickly or easily verifiable.
A dearth of communication about such an event should never occur again. Our senior editorial staff met with UTPD and the Dean of Students Office before Thanksgiving break, and I personally requested that such a breach of transparency never occur again. I believe that our new police chief, Troy Lane, is committed to serving our student population efficiently and effectively. The student body has a right to be officially informed when such incidents occur on campus, and at The Daily Beacon, we will continue to do anything in our power to make that a reality. The administration is now exploring ways to improve communications with the UT community under such circumstances. I do not anticipate the recurrence of such an event in the future.
— Blair Kuykendall is a senior in College Scholars and economics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.